Study: Stores losing money from self-checkout lanes

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – A new study shows stores are losing money from self-checkout lines.

As reported by WTNH-TV, criminologists at the United Kingdoms’s University of Leicester looked at data from nearly 12 million shopping trips from four major British retailers as well as others in the U.S., Belgium, and Holland between 2013 and 2015.

“Customers may purposely mis-weigh an item or put a different label for something that might be a lower price per pound for that is purchased by the pound,” said Erin Gorrell, a manager at the Wegmans Food Markets in Mechanicsburg.

It’s the risk retailers take with self-checkout lanes. Wegmans made the move to self-checkout lanes about a year ago.

“And that was because we didn’t want to lose the one-on-one time with our customers,” Gorrell said.

Now 25 percent of their customers use the self-checkout lanes.

“Self-checkout is convenient because I don’t have to wait in line and I can just go and I don’t have to wait for other people to go,” customer Emily Slevin said.

“It’s also nice they have the lanes where you can just go through with seven items or 12 items, too, but I think the self-checkout has been a good thing,” customer Lilli Kane said.

The study showed the rate of loss was 122 percent higher than if a cashier was there. It also found the technology gives customers an excuse to steal.

“Our attendants are trained if situations come up where a customer might mis-weigh an item or miss it going through,” Gorrell said.

As for a few lost dollars:

“It’s more about the convenience for them; for them to be able to come in, get what they need, and move on to the next stop of their day,” Gorrell said.

“If I don’t have a lot of items as a customer and I want to go through, I can go through quickly and efficiently,” Kane said.

The report also states that retailers can’t figure out if people are stealing or if they’re just making honest mistakes.

Wegmans said it won’t increase their prices to make up for lost revenue.

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